We all expected that the return to school this week would be different and ask more of us than usual. The staff and faculty at H.I.S. are working diligently so that we can stay safe and able to learn. We must all work together and be mindful that the caution and guidelines that we follow as a community are for a greater cause as we continue to deal with our present health crisis. The following post serves to challenge all of us to stay vigilant and strive to stay patient as a community.
Over the past months, the country of Denmark has been recognized globally for the solidarity and commitment during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Danes have an interesting word that has been revived there; samfundssind – a combination of the Danish words for society and mind which challenges all to adopt a mindset of setting aside personal interests for the greater public good.
I thought it would be useful to find out more about this word by corresponding with a recent H.I.S. graduate, Mikkeline, who will be studying at Copenhagen University this fall.
“I have heard that the idea of samfundssind worked well because Denmark’s prime minister re-introduced it as a new norm, and the society, which trusted her, embraced it voluntarily. As a native of Denmark, what was it like to interact with samfundssind as a new norm?”
“Samfundssind in many ways is not a new concept. The word doesn’t have any real definition except samfund “society” and sind “mind”, and is a word that is almost equal to solidarity in the first instance, but it is what lies underneath which turns out to have worked effectively for Denmark. In Denmark, there is a long tradition of helping those in need (which is particularly evident in the social welfare system, universal healthcare and free education) so Danes are pretty trained in trusting that what they put into the system, will eventually benefit them or the wider community. Therefore, there was practically no need for defining the word “samfundssind” when it was used in the context of a pandemic. We trust that the personal sacrifices we make on a daily basis will help those of us, who are most endangered, and trust the experts that our current sacrifices will help our society tackle the virus further into the future.”
“In what ways have you noticed the idea of samfundssind positively inspiring you, your community and/or your friends during the months of the Covid-19 pandemic?”
“The prime minister’s words echoed around conversations, advertising and social media “Stå sammen, ved at holde afstand” (stand together, by distancing). It was inspiring in the sense that everyone was in this together (in the same way that everyone doing the Diploma Programme is in it together…). I noticed that everyone I knew and the strangers in the street too, were devoted to this one cause, which traversed all political, racial, socio-economic boundaries. It was inspiring to see that as soon as we are motivated enough for a cause, the whole nation can mobilize itself.”
“Would you like to share anything with our school community on what has been helpful for you, as our school continues to follow health restrictions here in Germany and find ways to cope with the new norms?”
“Keep in mind that not everyone might be as lucky as you. There are people who are put much at risk by the pandemic, not just through ill health, but also people who cannot afford to be quarantined at home for two weeks. In a more privileged private school institution, many might not see the big picture, see that your actions are impactful and are part of a whole society’s effort that will either accelerate or decelerate covid-19. We cannot afford to cause a second wave through our ignorance, especially when we already in hindsight have seen the devastating impacts of a virus wreaking havoc in many countries.”
“Mikki, I would like to thank you for taking the time to help us all understand this wonderful Danish word. Your perspective is inspiring to hear and I am hopeful that our community can rally around this sort of collective responsibility and spirit so evident in your home country. On behalf of H.I.S., I wish you a safe and healthy fall semester in Copenhagen.”